I don’t know why more people don’t rave about Chile, its fast becoming one of my favourite countries I’ve ever visited. The capital Santiago is a really great place. I was anxious when we left the bus terminal because the outskirts of the city are really rough, but the centre is beautiful and buzzing and feels completely safe.
We found out museums close on Mondays, so we took that day to wander around and did another free walking tour. We learnt loads, not just about the buildings but about the recent history of Santiago. Like Argentina, there are hundreds or thousands of people with stories about those who disappeared during the dictatorship. I cant understand why we don’t learn about this in England, the history is so recent and so horrifying and yet the stories were so new to me.
There is an interesting museum of human rights in Santiago, which explains in great detail what happened under Pinochet and how he eventually lost power. It’s interesting to hear stories from people first-hand about what it was like, and I really appreciated the candour of our guide who was completely open to talking about his experiences of growing up in Santiago.
Our guide was also an actor, which meant he delivered all the information very passionately and had me giggling each time he’d shout “and we will walk in THIS DIRECTION” and did a funny little lunge. History is definitely more engaging when its being over-performed by a stage actor!
One of the coolest things to do in Santiago is to get to the top of San Cristobel hill and look down on the capital city. You can walk up or get a funicular (we chose the latter). We queued for about 40 minutes and when we got to the peak, I was surprised by how busy it was. There were stalls selling food and drink and it was full of tourists and cyclists who had biked up. You could walk a little further up the hill to see a chapel and a huge statue that overlooks the amphitheatre.
I made the mistake of looking over the side and my vertigo hit me like a bus. I spent the next 20 minutes clinging onto anything I could; my legs were shaking and I was almost frozen to the spot. I had to sit in the middle at the foot of the statue and convince myself I was able to walk down the 30 steps that would take me to the main level.
Once I had conquered the stairs, we got the funicular back down and I enjoyed watching the city being drawn closer as we descended.
We spent 3 days in Santiago and both Jonny and I would have loved to spend longer. We had a flight to Cordoba booked, otherwise we would have extended our stay.
The following week was spent in Cordoba and Salta, where we didn’t do a huge amount. However, we did do a full day excursion in Salta that took us to some very interesting sights, which I will blog about next…